Issue 29 is making its rounds across the country. For our digital subscribers and those who already received a print copy, you may have noticed a new one-page tradition we have started called “Questions from the Cowbell.” For each issue, we will be looking at the latest questions posed on our Cowbell forums, and offer some of our insight. While many of these questions are beginner-oriented, we are seeking a broad range of diverse questions to answer.

As with our crosseyed gallery (where you can send your cyclocross photos to we may favor one question of the “Questions from the Cowbell” that also packs a little humor.

Today we’ve included a few of the questions as well as one of our answers that made it into Issue 29. For the full article and quality content like this, pick up your back copy today, mailed first class, or get a digital version for quicker gratification. Read it here.

The man wearing red, white and blue imparted his knowledge in New York. © Andrew Reimann

Jeremy Powers offering some of his insight at a cyclocross clinic in New York City, presented by the NYC Rapha Club. © Andrew Reimann

[Greg Basa from the Cowbell forum]: “Just wondering…how many races did you guys watch before signing up for your first race? I’m going to watch my first cyclocross race…100-plus miles from home. (What do I bring – cowbell and what else?) Also, how did you prepare for your first race? I commute daily by bike and do bike delivery on certain days, so I know my legs are probably good, but what other muscle groups should I be working over?”

Our Thoughts: Greg, I only watched one live race and a few cyclocross recap YouTube clips before I raced cyclocross for the first time. I know far more people who raced the sport without watching anything beforehand. You could watch a thousand races or none, but in the end, racing cyclocross can’t only be learned by watching others.

As to your question on preparation, I wouldn’t worry too much about training muscle groups. Sure, strengthening and stretching out the hamstrings and back muscles might help prevent injuries, but if your question was based from a performance point of view, may I suggest finding a cyclocross clinic instead?

Clinics teach you some of the best fundamentals, and a few hours learning how to dismount, run over barriers and manage your bike will help your results far better than a month of muscle group training could.

As for your question about what to bring to a cyclocross race as a spectator, you only need that cowbell that you suggested. Having said that, racers might divulge some of their best-kept secrets if you are waiting at the finish line with a water bottle or a warm cup of cocoa for them!

[Ken787 from the Cowbell forum]: “Why am I getting my a** handed to me in cyclocross? I’m new to cyclocross and competed in two cyclocross events over the last month. I’m in the best condition that I’ve ever been, over the last two seasons I [place] in the top five racing mountain bikes and I’m moving up to Sport for next year. I thought that I would take up cyclocross because it looks like a lot of fun and to keep that competitive edge. My bike handling skills are fine what I can’t figure is how I’m getting beat so badly? I thought that I would do rather well instead I’m redlined and getting passed like I’m honestly standing still only to end up finishing midpack.”

Pick up your back copy today for the full article or get a digital version. And for those who want their photos or questions displayed in our Issue 30, be sure to ask questions on the cowbell forum today and send your favorite photos of gravel and cyclocross to